The Health Risks Behind Antiperspirants and Deodorants

About 10 or so years ago, I read a report about the dangers of using antiperspirant and/or deodorant containing aluminum. I didn’t do any further research; instead I immediately sought out to find an antiperspirant or deodorant that was aluminum free.

First off, all antiperspirants contain aluminum. So the first step I took was to switch to a deodorant. I was told that “natural” was best, so I gave “all natural” Crystal Deodorant or body stone a try. It worked quite well as far as odor protection, but was rough on my underarms. For those of you not familiar with the deodorant rock, you must wet the stone before each use and then roll it under your arms. It actually dissolves unevenly leaving some jagged edges on the rock (which was rough on my armpits) and it can also be quite messy.

Next, I tried a “natural” deodorant by Jeunique. This worked fabulous but at $8 a bottle, I quickly decided to try something else. Also, after reading the ingredients, I was convinced that the deodorant wasn’t so “natural” after all. After several months of using Jeunique, I went to the liquid or roll on Crystal Deodorant which also worked well but still seemed to cause some sensitivity to my armpits.

Over the next year I tried several other “natural deodorants”. One was by Tom’s of Maine, a company well known for it’s natural products. Although it smelled wonderful and was soothing to my armpits, I had a few embarrassing moments in which I made sure to stay at least 10 feet away from any human who knew my name. It was horrible! This deodorant might stop working at any time and a foul odor came from my armpits as if I were a teenager all over again. Several other attempts at “herbal” deodorants had me either taking a few showers a day, and/or left with raw armpits. As I write this today, I have sore armpits. It looks as though I’ve had a chemical burn from my last attempt at an herbal deodorant by Herbal Clear that contained Tea Tree Oil and Vitamin E.

Before I torture my armpits once again with a so-called “natural product”, I thought I’d take some time and learn the truth about the health risks concerning antiperspirants and deodorants.

My husband and I searched high and low to simply find a deodorant (a non-antiperspirant) for women. To my surprise there are only a few on the market. Most “deodorants” are natural/herbal. What is the different between antiperspirant and deodorant? Well most of us know that antiperspirants keep you from sweating. Although I love antiperspirants because they keep me feeling fresh all day, I must admit that the idea of having chemical agents block my sweating seems like it could cause some health risks. According to the care2 website, antiperspirants use aluminum salts to block sweating whereas deodorants work to kill bacteria that might cause odor. Think about it like this, just as our room air fresheners neutralize odor, so do our body deodorants. After looking at the facts, I am convinced that I was on the right track moving away from an antiperspirant and switching to a deodorant. Antiperspirants have been said to cause problems with sweat glands after years of use, can sometimes cause discoloration in the skin (although this happened to me with an herbal deodorant also though) and some have even linked the use of antiperspirants to breast cancer (note that the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society both dispute this claim). The biggest claim against antiperspirants have been the connection between them and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Okay, so I believe I was on the right track moving away from using an antiperspirant. But is it necessary for me to use a “natural” deodorant? It is said that the type of aluminum used in antiperspirants is dangerous. Supposedly this dangerous chemical seeps into the brain after continuous use leading to Alzheimer’s. But is aluminum found in deodorant? Well, from my research I’ve concluded that most deodorants also contain aluminum; thus, it is said that deodorant can also be hazardous to one’s health.

Now I don’t know about you but I cannot do what one medical professional suggests. He suggests just using soap and water. Well, I have a hard enough time not smelling when I use “natural” deodorants, so I surely can’t get by with using nothing. What’s a girl to do?

Last week my husband found an aluminum free deodorant by Adidas. It’s called Adidas 24 hr. control absorbent-deo with wetness control. It boasts that it is the first deodorant for women to manage perspiration as effectively as an antiperspirant. It uses the patented Cotton Tech to absorb and evaporate wetness naturally. I have to say that I am extremely pleased with this product. It has the smell of pure baby powder and works as well as an antiperspirant. I plan to stick with this product as I’ve had some horrible experiences with others so my testing days are over. If you decide to switch to using an “aluminum free” deodorant, you’ll have to take your own journey to find out what works for you. Here are some tips to help you along the way –

1. Tom’s of Maine is a good product but is not for you if you have an odor problem. If you don’t get very “musty” this is a very good product. They offer some very good fragrances like Calendula, Lavender and Lemongrass.
2. Herbal Clear is strong and it works. It claims to be effective because it uses a product called “Lichen”. This “Lichen” is said to be a natural antimicrobial with antibiotic properties. It works by interrupting the metabolism associated with the decomposition of bacteria on the skin, thereby preventing odor. This product is the one that caused chemical burns for me. Soemthing for you to consider.
3. The most popular of the natural deodorants is the crystal or rock deodorant. Many different companies manufacture this product; however, I’d recommend the Crystal company. I’d stay away from the stick. Go with the roll on or spray. The spray seems to go quickly, so I think the roll on is the best value for your money.
4. Burt’s Bees Herbal Deodorant with oil sage is another well known product. Just as with Tom’s of Maine, this product does not work very well. Gentle, nice fragrance, but not for people who get “musty” quick.
5. Also think about making your own deodorant using essential oils. I took a spray bottle, filled it with distilled water and put in 4-5 drops each of Rosemary and Lavender oils. This worked just as well as Tom’s of Maine in temporarily covering up odor. There are also recipes for making your own deodorant as well – here are links to a couple – http://www.theexpress.com/express%20351/bodyline.htm and http://www.care2.com/channels/solutions/self/114.
6. Consider using baking soda (this also caused a skin rash for me) or a deodorant powder instead.

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